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it his undivided attention from its commencement to its completion. But he was compelled to pursue a different course, and devote to its prosecution those intervals by day and by night, which could be spared from other pursuits and engagements.
With regard to the execution of the work under these circumstances, he must abide by the decision of those whom it is designed to interest.
To those persons whose kindness tended to facilitate his progress, he avails himself of this occasion to express his thanks. To the editors of the several city papers, for the privilege of examining their files, his obligations are hereby specially and respectfully acknowledged. The writer is also indebted to the obliging disposition, retentive memory, and politeness of several venerable and greatly esteemed ladies and gentlemen of Norfolk and Portsmouth, for the particulars of many interesting events included in the Sketches. And it is but common courtesy to acknowledge his high appreciation of the valuable suggestions, as well as the frequent expressions of kindness and encouragement with regard to the enterprise, from individuals whose character and judgment entitle them to considerations of great respect.
In gathering, culling, and preparing the subject-matter for the press, many facts and incidents-some of a melancholy and unpleasant nature, and others of no special interest-were cast aside, to be lost, perhaps, in the deep ocean of forgetfulness; while those only were retained, which it was thought would prove valuable and entertaining, and therefore worthy of a place in local history. As the book will not be without readers at a distance as well as in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and vicinage, many remarks of general interest will be found upon its pages.
The writer is well assured that he does not mistake the character of his fellow-citizens in other parts of Virginia, in supposing
that they feel interested in the history, present condition, and prospects of their seaport, and of this productive, and we may truly say, interesting and attractive section of the Old Dominion, bordering as it does upon the sea, whose blue waves ceaselessly break and dash along its beautiful shores.
The author trusts that an effort to save from oblivion, and place in form and order, those occurrences of the past, in which many of the present day must feel an interest, will meet with the general approbation of the community. He indulges the hope, also, that the remarks upon the moral, political, literary, and social character of the place, may not be unacceptable to the reader. At the conclusion of the volume is a copious alphabetical index, which adds somewhat to its value, as it will be found useful for reference.
In submitting, though not without unfeigned diffidence, the result of his labours to an enlightened and scrutinizing public, the writer is constrained to express the hope, that its tendency may prove beneficial. And, if his attempt to recall to mind the recollection of interesting incidents long past and forgotten; to perpetuate to posterity some pleasing reminiscences of worthy men, whose mortal remains repose quietly in the silent tomb, shall prove successful, he will not feel that his efforts have been entirely in vain. If he shall succeed in "letting a spark fall upon memory's altar, and lighting up her slumbering fires" with the remembrance of the pleasing and novel occurrences of other days; or in placing fairly and plainly before the public eye, an account of the commercial facilities and advantageous local position of the port of Norfolk and Portsmouth; in arousing to action any portion of the native mental or physical energy, that may have hitherto been partially dormant and unexercised; in awakening a more lively interest in those works of internal improvement with which the welfare of Eastern Virginia, and the prospects of
this port in particular, are so intimately connected; or in directing attention to any of the various places of interest in the vicinity— the works of nature and of art, the noble rivers and winding streams; the pleasant villas and cultivated lands; the buildings, ancient and modern; the dense old forests, the boundless ocean, and other attractive objects-he will not hereafter be troubled with the unpleasant reflection that the time and pains which he found indispensable to the accomplishment of the work, were bestowed, without effecting, at least in some degree, the results which were intended and anxiously desired.
NORFOLK, VA., January, 1853.
W. S. F.